A veritable “feast of sport” will soon be upon us when we immerse ourselves in the fun and games of the 30th Olympiad in London, England, from July 27 to August 12.
London will become the first city to officially host the modern Olympic Games three times, having previously done so in 1908 and in 1948.
Let’s get in the mood with some assorted facts and figures, as well as a little test of your Olympic Games knowledge.
• What did runners in the ancient Olympic Games wear?
• Did you know that women were NOT allowed to participate in the ancient Olympics?
Times have obviously changed.
• How many players are there in volleyball?
Volleyball is played with six players on each side, while beach volleyball is contested in the Olympic Games with two players per side.
• What is a coxswain?
The coxswain, or cox, is the person who steers the boat and directs the crew in the sport of rowing. The cox doesn't row, and is usually a very small person in order to minimize the weight of the boat. Coxes are sometimes thought of as “the coaches on the water.”
• In what Olympic sport did the famous American “baby doctor,” Benjamin Spock, win a gold medal?
Rowing. He was a member of the U.S. coxed eight crew in the 1924 Games.
• Who were the first male and female gymnasts to score perfect 10s in the Olympics?
Nadia Comaneci of Romania scored a 10 on the balance beam in 1976, and Aleksandr Dityatin of the Soviet Union got his 10 on the vault in 1980.
• Who set a record for the most gold medals in a single Olympic Games at the 1972 Munich Olympics?
Mark Spitz of the U.S.A. won seven swimming gold medals, including four individual, all in record times at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Michael Phelps of the U.S.A. won eight swimming gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and thus set a new record for the maximum number of gold medals in a single Olympic Games.
• What is the meaning of the motto: citius, altius, fortius of the Olympic Games?
Devised by a French educationist, Father Henri Didon, the Latin motto means “faster, higher, stronger.”
• In which Olympics did the world-famous American boxer Muhammad Ali win the light heavyweight boxing title?
Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., won the light heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics.
• Which American diver won a double gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in spite of hitting his head on the three-metre springboard?
Greg Louganis won gold medals in both the three-metre springboard and 10-metre platform diving events at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics as well as the 1988 Seoul Olympics. During the preliminary rounds in Seoul, he suffered a concussion due to hitting his head on the three-metre springboard.
• Is football an Olympic sport?
The sport that is called football throughout the rest of the world is known as soccer in North America. Football (soccer) is an Olympic sport, and women were allowed to play for the first time in the 1996 games.
• Why does a football have black and white panels?
To enable the players to judge the ball’s speed and direction.
• What are the five events of the modern pentathlon?
Shooting, fencing, swimming, riding and running.
• How fast does the ball travel back and forth across the table in the sport of table tennis, or as most of us call it, Ping-pong?
At speeds up to 160 km/h.
• How fast does the shuttlecock travel in a badminton match?
Not very fast the way most of us hit it, but for the experts, it’s up to speeds of 320 km/h.
• Why are the Games called the Olympics?
The ancient games were first held in Olympia, Greece.
• Who chose the five ring symbol of the Olympics and what do the rings represent?
Pierre de Coubertin of France chose the rings, which represent five areas of the world linked in friendship.